TL;DR – Live and let live.
It’s that time of the year again. Pink Dot is happening soon. This year’s edition has been fraught with much more contentious issues than previous years’. It started with MHA banning foreign companies from sponsoring the event. Local companies have stepped up to the plate and raised the needed funds. Then there are changes to the Public Order Act, which prohibits foreigners from attending the Pink Dot event.
The latest in the spate of contentious issues happened recently. The organisers of the Pink Dot event placed an advertisement on one of the escalators of Cathay Cineleisure.
The advertisement sparked intense discussion. That is understandable. What was incomprehensible is that some people decided to make a complaint to the police. But it seems that the police isn’t taking any action. Because apparently, there is nothing illegal with displaying that advertisement.
In steps the Advertising Standards Authority of Singapore
In response to this advertisement, the Advertising Standards Authority of Singapore (ASAS) recently made this comment:
“As such, keeping with the shared values in Singapore’s society, such as “family as the basic unit of society”, “community support and respect for the individual”; and “consensus, not conflict”, the council is of the view that the statement “Supporting the freedom to love” must be removed.”
This was even though ASAS have conceded that the advertisement doesn’t breach the Singapore Code of Advertising Practice (SCAP). There are at least two things wrong with what ASAS said.
ASAS has no legal bite
ASAS is an advisory council. It has no statutory power to compel anyone to do anything. If it had any real power, then we wouldn’t have issues of infant formula milk brands putting up misleading advertisements and labels. ASAS could have compelled them to have non-misleading advertisements. But no. We are still waiting for the government to pass stricter regulations on advertising and labelling of infant formula milk.
In other words, ASAS is in no position to say that the statement “Supporting the freedom to love” MUST be removed. At most, it can advise that the statement should be removed. Then it is up to the mall or the Pink Dot organisers to decide whether they want to remove the statement.
Pink Dot has always acknowledged “family as the basic unit of society”
In response to ASAS’s comment, a Pink Dot spokesperson said:
“Pink Dot’s message is in line with the shared values of all Singaporeans that place the family as the basic unit of society”
And, as Singaporean filmmaker Boo Junfeng pointed out in a Facebook post, Pink Dot has always been about “calling on Singaporeans to build better understanding among one another and forge stronger bonds within the family”.
If people really thought about it, it’s not hard to realise what Boo Junfeng said is true. If family members of LGBT don’t support the freedom to love, don’t believe that love can come in diverse forms, what do you think will happen? Do you think that family will have strong bonds? Do you think that family will still be intact for long? Probably not.
That’s why anyone who really wants to maintain the family as the basic unit of society should actually support Pink Dot. They should encourage family members to support one another’s freedom to love, so that they don’t end up estranging any family members and can forge strong bonds instead.
Great response by Cathay
Despite all the pressure, Cathay didn’t yield. It said:
“This is and has always been in line with our mission of bringing people together. We hope to inspire people to embrace the values of equality where one can live and love freely”
Since it released its statement, Cathay has also received its fair share of criticism. Some people have taken to Facebook to declare that they will boycott Cathay cinemas and complexes. There is great irony in that. Because Facebook is an ardent support of the LGBT movement. In fact, Facebook has gone even further to support gay marriage.
If people want to boycott Cathay because of that advertisement, then perhaps they should get off Facebook first. Otherwise, they would be most hypocritical. But do you think they would? Very unlikely. Hypocrites.
Thankfully, there is also an outpouring of support for Cathay. This has encouraged Cathay. It said:
“We hope that this positivity can be felt by all, and wish for greater acceptance and understanding amongst fellow Singaporeans”
We hope so too.